|Photo by David Mallinson - his entry into our annual photocompetition|
Travel lovers around the world dream of it: exploring the fabulous cities and rolling hills of Tuscany. Villas are, for many, the perfect launching pad for their adventures – go at your own pace, comfortable in the knowledge that there’s a cosy retreat waiting for you at the end of the day. And when it comes to visiting famous cities like Pisa, you’ll be a step ahead of the package tours, able to venture beyond the most popular sights and spend as long as you like investigating the rest of the city. So where to start?
For those who want to beat the crowds on their travels in Tuscany, villas near Pisa are well-placed to let you head into town while other travellers are still at their hotel breakfasts. Getting there early means that you can enjoy the Piazza del Miracoli – or Square of Miracles, home to the city’s most iconic sights – in relative peace. Located north of the historic centre of town, this is where you’ll see the Leaning Tower – or Torre Pendente – as well as the Duomo and the Baptistry. The Tower is what draws flocks of visitors to the square daily. Its long construction started in the twelfth century, and it began to tilt shortly afterwards – and was not completely stabilised until 2008. Today, it’s safe to climb to the top for wonderful views of the city. Also worth seeing are the Duomo, a wonderful showcase of Romanesque cathedral design, the Baptistry, and the Museo del Opera del Duomo. The latter is a museum featuring a fascinating collection of artworks.
Next, why not leave the Piazza dei Miracoli behind to see what else Pisa – a history- and culture-rich town with a vibrant student population – has to offer? The best of the city’s life can be seen along the Arno promenade, which is Pisa in miniature: Renaissance palaces next to contemporary shops and restaurants, all in a highly photogenic setting. This is a great place to linger into the evening, watching the river and enjoying some of the city’s finest meals.
Before you leave, stop by the Piazza delle Vettovaglie for a bustling local market. In Tuscany, villas are great for enjoying a lazy lunch on the veranda – and this is the perfect place to stock up on Italian lunch essentials!